PG Cougars set for Rematch vs Spokane
Tonight at the CN Centre the Prince George Cougars and the Spokane Chiefs are going to meet for a fourth and final time. Last night the Chiefs earned a 3-2 victory over the Cougars who are now 2-1 on their current home stand. A victory tonight though still makes the home stand a success for the Cougars, who still woke up today closer to securing a playoff berth thanks to a Tri-City loss on Friday. Tonight’s rematch with the Chiefs should have no shortage of intrigue as both teams are still trying to jockey for playoff positioning.
– Head Coach: Don Nachbaur
– Record: 30-25-5-4
– Road Record: 12-13-3-3
– Streak: 1W
– Last 10: 4-4-1-1
– Record Against Prince George This Season: 2-1 (1-1 in Spokane, 1-0 in Prince George)
– Record Against Prince George Over the Past Five Seasons: 13-4-1-1
– Playoff Push: Currently six points ahead of the Tri-City Americans for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have played 64 games. Only one point separates the fourth placed Chiefs from the third placed Portland Winterhawks who sit third in the US Division.
Who’s Up Front:
– Curtis Miske had a goal and an assist in last night’s game. Miske’s 12th of the season was the game winner.
– Markson Bechtold paced the Chiefs with two assists last night. He was named the game’s first star after a strong two-way game.
– Key injuries: Kailer Yamamoto (64 points), Wyatt Johnson (33 points), Jacob Cardiff (Had the Chiefs lone goal in their 1-0 victory over Prince George on Wednesday, February 24th).
Who’s on D:
– Jeff Faith was a +2 on Friday and had a spirited fight with Jesse Gabrielle late in the second period.
– Matt Sozanski had an assist and logged big minutes alongside Tyson Helgesen who effectively shut down the Cougars top scorers during five-on-five play.
– Key injury: Jason Fram, who has 11 goals and 44 points for the Chiefs through 52 games. Evan Fiala who is a +18, tops among all Spokane defencemen.
Who’s in Goal:
– Lasse Petersen is 1-1 against the Cougars this season. His victory was a 1-0 shutout on February 24th. The next night he surrendered five goals against.
– Tyson Verhelst was 1-0 against the Cougars last season with a 2.25 goals-against-average and a .950 save percentage. Last night Verhelst made 28 saves on 30 shots faced, many of his clutch saves came in the third period when the Cougars really mounted their push back.
– Maintain the same desperation: Another Spoaken victory keeps them at least six points ahead of Tri-City while also possibly surpassing Portland back into third in the US Division. They were the more desperate team last night through 60 minutes and it showed in the final score.
– Success at CN Center: 9-1-1 in their past 11 visits to Prince George.
Prince George Cougars:
– Head Coach: Mark Holick
– Record: 35-27-3-1 – Matching the second highest win total in Prince George Cougars franchise history.
– Home Record: 20-12-1-1
– Streak: 1L
– Last 10: 4-6-0-0
– Record Against Spokane This Season: 1-2 (1-1 in Spokane, 0-1 in Prince George)
– Record Against Spokane Over the Past Five Seasons: 6-13
– Playoff Push: Five points ahead of Kamloops for third in the B.C. Division and are a combination of four victories or four regulation Tri-City Americans losses away from officially clinching a playoff spot for a second straight season.
Who’s Up Front:
– Jesse Gabrielle notched his 40th goal of the season last night, making him the sixth Cougar to ever reach the 40 goal mark. He also became the youngest Cougar ever to reach that plateau and just the second Cougar ever to do so during his 18-year-old season. The other player was Brett Connolly who did so in 2010-11.
– Jansen Harkins has goals in back-to-back games and has now set a new season high for goals in a WHL season with 22.
Who’s on D:
– Cougars captain Sam Ruopp leads the team with a +21 rating. He had an assist on the Gabrielle shorthanded marker last night, and logged big minutes in all situations. He’ll need another big game tonight.
– Tate Olson finished the game with an assist, and was a +1. He was named the game’s second star for his performance.
– The Cougars held the Chiefs to 22 shots, and have held them to just four goals against in three meetings this season.
Who’s in Goal:
– Ty Edmonds has won two of his past three starts, including a 6-0 shutout victory against Spokane last Friday.
– Nick McBride came into the game in relief last night and stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced. Unfortunately for him, he took the loss as the only goal he surrendered turned out to be winner off of Curtis Miske.
– Both goalies have rotated games since February 12th vs. Kelowna.
– PK was 7/7 against the Chiefs in Spokane last week and was 6/7 last night. The good news was that the penalty kill seemed to spark the Cougars with some momentum, but that bad news is that they were shorthanded for 14 minutes of action, which is tough for a team that has been much more disciplined as of late.
– Better start: The Cougars haven’t led after the first period since last Friday in Spokane. They’ve got four straight games being tied or worse after one period. This team has shown all season that they are a much better team when playing with a lead. They are 21-4 when leading after one period.
– Protecting their home ice: The Cougars are 20-12-1-1 at home, they’re best record since 2006-07 where they ended up winning 21 games at home.
– Chase Witala is now four points away from surpassing Troy Bourke (236 points) for the all-time lead franchise scoring lead. Witala comes into tonight’s game with 118 goals and 115 assists for 233 points. Witala earned an assist on Jansen Harkins’ third period power play goal last night.